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What is Brand Strategy & is it really that important?

🗣️ “To become a pro, you have to create strategic logos”

🗣️ “Without strategy, a brand identity is nothing more than a logo, a few fonts, and a colour palette”

🗣️ “Want to charge more for your work? Provide brand strategy services!”

Now, these might be some things you commonly hear about the topic of brand strategy (I know I’ve said a few myself), but what does brand strategy actually entail?

When I first started trying to include it in my brand design process, it felt elusive, fugayzi if you will.

"Fugayzi, fugazi. It's a whazy. It's a woozie. It's fairy dust."

But I couldn’t have been more wrong! I can wholeheartedly say that implementing brand strategy into my brand design process has been one of the best decisions I ever made.

It took my designs from this:

To this:

But before I dive into the topic of this newsletter and share how I went from ‘meh’ to ‘master’ in brand strategy, I want to share something interesting with you…

On February 15th, I’ll be giving a detailed presentation about my client process at an online event called The Designer Boss Summit. After the presentation, I’ll also be hosting a live Q&A session on Facebook. You can find more information about the event and how to attend here. This is my first time participating in an event like this, so it would mean a lot to see you there! Anyway, where were we…. Brand Strategy!

When I first started trying to implement strategy, I was afraid that all my designs would look corporate, which if you know me, is far from my design style.

So what did I do? I took the opposite approach.

Instead, I: Created designs solely based on the client’s preferences.

  • Didn’t experiment or add my creative touch to things.

  • Neglected to conduct any industry research, resulting in branding that often resembled competitors.

  • Lacked insights into a brand’s target audience, leading to generic visuals.

  • Undervalued my work by charging low fees because I saw brand design as merely creating a logo.

It didn’t take long for this approach to become boring. Merely acting as the middleman (or middlewoman, in this case) between my clients and their designs made me feel like an uncreative pixel pusher who lacked pride in their work. My only concern was delivering what the client requested and getting paid.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is where I decided to make a change…

So, how did I turn things around and rediscover my passion for my work?

How did I start attracting high-value clients who valued my expert opinion, advice, and ideas for their brand?

I introduced, as you may have guessed, ‘Brand Strategy’ as a service within my design business.

Now, if you are unsure about what brand strategy entails (don’t worry, I was in the same boat), let me break it down for you because it’s actually quite simple.

Brand strategy involves identifying how the business you are designing for is perceived in their market or industry, and creating a visual identity that aligns with that perception.

This process includes:

  • Discovering their unique voice and personality.

  • Identifying the target audience and determining what would attract them.

  • Analysing competitors to determine the brand’s competitive advantage.

  • Designing a visual identity that is distinct from the industry, tells their story and stands the test of time.

By incorporating these elements into your brand design process, every aspect is backed by strategy. There is intention behind your designs.

Here’s a recent project of mine:

As you can see, it’s a stark contrast to how my project files used to look.

They are now filled with experimentation, ideas, and concepts, all of which are based on the findings from the strategy stage. Without that stage, there is no way I would have arrived at my final concept. The ideas gained from this stage played a crucial role in shaping the brand’s visual identity.

Now you might be wondering, “What did this ‘strategy stage’ consist of?” Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:

  1. After onboarding, I had a strategy call with the client. During this call, I asked questions such as “What beliefs and core values does the brand align with?” to uncover their mission, purpose, and vision. This information was crucial for ensuring that the visuals I create align well with their brand.

  2. Using the information provided by the client as a starting point, I conducted my own analysis and research into three main areas: their industry, competitors, and target audience. This helped me determine how to position them within their market.

  3. I then compiled all the information gathered from the strategy call and my research into a strategy presentation. This presentation allowed me to explain my analysis and provide advice to the client on how they can stand out.

  4. Finally, based on this information, I created mood boards to establish a creative direction for the visual identity. These mood boards were not based on the client’s personal preferences, but rather on my findings.

Including brand strategy in your brand design process is essential for solving bigger problems. With a strategic approach, your designs go beyond just being a “pretty logo.” They become the driving force behind building brand awareness, increasing sales, and positioning the business as a unique player in its industry.

And as you may have guessed, businesses are willing to invest a lot of money for that!

If you’re looking to start implementing brand strategy in your client projects, I have a brand strategy presentation that includes steps such as identifying their target audience, analysing competitors, and more. You can check that out here.

Until next time,

Abi x

P.S. You don’t have to become a ‘brand strategist’ as it’s not for everyone, but if there’s one thing you take away from this email, let it be this: being more intentional with your designs can have a huge impact on your work.​

P.P.S. Watch this week’s podcast here, where Jack and I discuss exactly what’s involved when doing brand strategy for a client.


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